Falun Gong practitioners held a peaceful protest outside Manchester Town Hall while China’s President Xi Jinping had lunch inside. Manchester Councillor Kevin Peel joined the Falun Gong protest to express his support. The date was October 23, the final day of Xi’s visit to England.
Falun Gong practitioners held large banners reading “Bring Jiang Zemin to Justice”, “Falun Dafa Is Great”, “Stop the Persecution of Falun Gong” and more. The banners were visible to Xi’s motorcade as it passed. Falun Gong then became a highlight in U.K. media reports.
Jiang, the former head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), initiated the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999 and abused his power in orchestrating the persecution and manipulating state machinery to carry it out. The 16-year-long persecution has led to over 3800 confirmed deaths of Falun Gong practitioners during police custody.
When finalizing the protest location, the police officer in charge said, “I’ll give you a good location where Xi will definitely see you.” He led the practitioners to the right side of the square near the town hall.
Xi’s motorcade arrived at about noon. Motorcycles led more than ten cars into the square, facing a large banner reading “Bring Jiang Zemin to Justice”. Over 20 Chinese officials and staffers stepped out of the cars and looked around before walking into the town hall.
Manchester Councillor Kevin Peel initiated and hosted a workshop to discuss human rights issues in China on the day of Xi’s arrival. Falun Gong practitioners narrated their suffering in the persecution and the current wave of lawsuits against Jiang. Several city councillors and Member of European Parliament Theresa Griffi participated in the meeting.
Councillor Peel came to the Falun Gong protest site on the morning of October 23 to express his support.
“It is important for us city councillors to express the views of people we represent.” said Councillor Peel. He commented that Manchester people pay attention to human rights. Doing business with China is important, but human rights must be discussed.
Lord Wei of the House of Lords met with Falun Gong practitioners at the end of the activity. They told him the purpose of the protest was to call for an end to the persecution and organ harvesting atrocities. Lord Wei said he was aware of organ harvesting, and that it had been discussed in the House of Lords.
Media Coverage of Falun Gong
A reporter of That’s Manchester, the new TV channel for Greater Manchester, interviewed 60-year-old practitioner Ms. Suqing Bi, who was incarcerated and tortured in Masanjia Labor Camp. She was imprisoned for three years for practising Falun Gong and was released after she protested via hunger strike.
“I wish to stop the persecution. That’s why I am here today,” said Ms. Bi.
She narrated her miserable experience, suffering beatings and having her face burnt with a lighter. She recalled that she was blood tested and was shocked to later learn about organ harvesting atrocities. The reporter asked her to introduce Falun Gong and explain why it is persecuted.
Andy Bounds, Editor of The Financial Times, interviewed Ms. Yumei Liu from Finland. Ms. Liu was arrested nine times in China and suffered over 30 kinds of torture. Her sister was tortured to death in April 2002. She showed photos of herself taken upon her release from prison, showing how emaciated she was. She also showed her copy of criminal complaint against Jiang she filed to the Supreme People’s Court in Beijing.
BBC reporters also interviewed Ms. Bi and Ms. Liu and posted an article to describe their suffering from the persecution.
Salford Star also carried a report on the protest. It mentioned the lawsuits filed against Jiang by over 190,000 people. It stated, “One of the leaflets quotes a European Parliament resolution passed on December 11th 2013… that the European Parliament ‘expresses its deep concern over the persistent and credible reports of systematic state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in the People’s Republic of China, including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned for their religious beliefs…’”
“Chinese diplomats could be seen complaining about the protests, but this wasn’t Tiananmen Square.”